Keeping the Christmas Tree Lights On with HomeKit

If you’ve got more than a couple of lights tied into your HomeKit system, you’ve probably gotten accustomed to using Siri commands like “Turn off the lights” when you’re leaving home, going to bed, or just otherwise want to de-illuminate your home. Of course, in that case, this time of year you’re probably going to be tempted to plug your Christmas tree or other holiday lights into a HomeKit-compatible plug so that you can control them using Siri and HomeKit automation. It’s a great idea, but suddenly you might find yourself avoiding Siri commands to turn all of your lights off at home, or in a given room if you still want to leave the Christmas lights on.

While you can of course use HomeKit Scenes for this purpose, those aren’t referenced as naturally using Siri. Fortunately, there’s a simpler workaround: Set the HomeKit plug you’re using as an “Outlet” instead of a “Light.” In Apple’s Home app, this setting can be accessed by tapping and holding or 3D Touching on the icon for your outlet and then tapping the “Details” button to bring up the configuration. Most HomeKit plugs should provide three possible type settings, which are used to determine how the outlet will be treated when issuing Siri commands. Basically, if the plug isn’t set to be a “Light” in this configuration, it’s not going to participate in commands to “Turn off the lights,” which means you’ll be able to keep the Christmas tree lit up even when you’re telling Siri to turn off all of the other lights in the room. And if you want to turn the Christmas lights on or off using Siri, simply reference them by name — Siri doesn’t always get the grammar right (e.g. “The Christmas Tree Lights is on”), but it will get the job done.

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